Hillary goes Hollywood -- in Brooklyn

By Rebecca Traister
Published October 26, 2004 6:36PM (EDT)

It was an odd moment, just a week and a day before the election, when Hillary Clinton, in a black-belted coat, sparkly earrings, and boots so spiky they could be classified as weapons, made her way down a paparazzi-lined red carpet into the arms of Miramax co-chairman Harvey Weinstein. Odder still was that this scene took place in the middle of Brooklyn -- not a borough typically littered with red carpets or paparazzi.

As far as we could tell, Clinton was taking an evening's break from her tour of swing states in support of John Kerry to fulfill a promise she'd made to menschy Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz. She'd promised the enthusiastic Markowitz that she'd try to exercise her considerable influence over Democratic work-horse (and donor) Weinstein to persuade him to have a national premiere in this outer-borough. So here they all were at the Brooklyn Museum, at the premiere of "Finding Neverland," a movie about Peter Pan playwright J.M. Barrie starring Johnny Depp, Kate Winslet, Julie Christie and Dustin Hoffman. Hoffman and Winslet, along with Ben Stiller and Christine Taylor, Glenn Close, novelist Paul Auster, former Monkee Mickey Dolenz and Tony Danza were all making their way past crowds of locals shouting "Thank you for coming to Brooklyn!"

Don't ask. War Room lives in Brooklyn, and we didn't get it either.

Inside, Mr. Markowitz took the stage, claiming improbably that "in days ahead, Brooklyn will be known as Hollywood East!" He gave local shout-outs to Weinstein and his brother Bob, "two Brooklyn boychiks" and introduced the junior senator by proclaiming that he had two wishes: "Hillary in the White House and Chelsea a Brooklyn resident!"

Clinton's husband always did show business well. Like he might as well have been discovered at the milkshake counter at Schraffts. But the language of the industry does not trip as lightly from Hillary's tongue. Speaking of Weinstein, Clinton called him her "dear friend" and said that he's someone "I really admire and really respect for his craft." Uh-huh. Still, she made a (strange) case for the Hollywood-Brooklyn connection -- perhaps prepping her Brooklyn constituents to support her in her next race, which could be against local favorite Rudy Giuliani. "There are countless movies about people from Brooklyn," she explained. So naturally, "Brooklyn deserves a national premiere!" Clinton did not mention John Kerry's name.

But Weinstein -- who has lost so much weight that he is almost unrecognizable -- wasted little time. Though first, he (naturally) was forced to dispense with his Brooklyn credentials. "I know how to make an egg cream; I could probably name the last line-up of the Dodgers," he said. And that has earned him the right to invoke what he called "the chutzpah rule." He made the audience the following offer: "If you don't like this movie, you can hang my brother and me in effigy." Weinstein also generously offered the opportunity to hang a third producer, Richard Gladstein. "But if you like the movie, you have to call ten undecided voters in swing states and get them to vote for Senator Kerry." He paused. "Or you could do it Brooklyn style and go to the swing states and vote ten times for Kerry, which is probably one less time than Dick Cheney is going to vote for himself.

Weinstein couldn't stop himself. "I love the Republicans," he said. "They keep talking about free voting in Afghanistan and they're trying to prevent people from voting in this country. But that's OK, cause all the young kids are going to come out and kick their butts."

Weinstein laughed. "I promised my staff I was not going to be political tonight."

Rebecca Traister

Rebecca Traister writes for Salon. She is the author of "Big Girls Don't Cry: The Election that Changed Everything for American Women" (Free Press). Follow @rtraister on Twitter.

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